Doc Yale

Opa - On Government
21st Century Temple of Worship

The following is another excerpt from Doc Yale’s Novel Monte.  The novel is set in the future but is neither a utopian nor a dystopian story—but rather a story of a small community that managed to survive the many catastrophes that we can see coming—global warming and biological disruption,  governmental disintegration, economic collapse,  human  plagues, social disorder.  The character Opa is an ancient one who has lived through all of these catastrophes and thus has some perspective on the changes.  Monte is his great grandson who is pretty oblivious to history but is starting to get curious about some of his past.  The novel features some of Opa’s journal entrys of which this is one.

Opa’s Journal (On Government)

Monte wants to know what the government was like—but how can I explain it.  He has so little background—I don’t think he even knows what money is—and how do you explain government without talking about money and taxes—and power—if there’s a difference.  But I will try.  I have one advantage—with so few distractions these days—no radio, telephone, television, computers—some kids can be pretty good listeners—if they think you have something to say.  Most of the valley people think I am either demented or senile or both—maybe I am—some old fossil body without mind from a foreign age of no particular interest. 

I have no idea why I have lived so long—it certainly isn’t what they used to think of as a healthy lifestyle.  I’ve pretty much eaten drunk and smoked whatever I wanted. But maybe that isn’t as important as other things.  I have tried to avoid being places where I could be shot at or beaten-up and robbed, I have enough fear of heights that I’ll never fall off a cliff.  I’ve avoided areas and people with the plague.  Maybe fear is the key to longevity.  It’s a pretty primitive instinct. 

But how to describe government to a bright mind with no context. Government used to be a religion—but no one called it that—but what else was it.  I grew up as all others did at the time with the absolute belief that governments would always be there.  Governments had been around for thousands of years and would always be there in the future.  Who could have guessed how rapidly they would fall apart.  Of course they are still around in some form—but I doubt they’ll survive much longer.  Hard to tell now since we get so little news of the outer world.  Maybe the government of England or Iceland or Tonga is still intact. 

Oh, we were critical of governments including our own.  But for most people there were good governments and bad ones.  Communism was bad—Capitalism was good—or visa-versa depending on your view.  Or to some of us both of them were bad.  But underneath that we never questioned that some form of government would always be there. 

What were governments really?—and did we need them?  Were we just slaves to the government?  Of course we were.  Governments were just organized gangs.  They told you if you gave them your money, they would protect you and provide for you.  But they did not ask—they just took it in taxes—taxes everywhere – on what you bought, on your shack, on your income.  They were the best organized gang – they had offices everywhere, they had rules--rules they called laws—and a whole covey of people to enforce these rules and rob you while they were doing it—they called them lawyers.  I miss a lot of things from the old days—but I don’t miss lawyers.  The government was the most ruthless and powerful of the gangs. Whenever one of the non-government gangs got too powerful they just took over the government or visaversa.  The result was the same—an even more powerful gang.  The government could tell you what drugs you could take and which you couldn’t, who or what you could sleep with, where you could live and so on.  And worse of all, if you didn’t pay them they would come and kick you out of your home and take everything you owned—or even lock you up.

 The government these days, the revenooers they call them, is not as organized or sophisticated as the old government.  They no longer make any pretense of providing services.  There used to be an old joke line that went “I’m from the government and I’m here to help you.”  No one really believed it then and they certainly don’t now.